|March 28th, 2008|
RAAF fighters could be outgunned: expert info
RAAF fighters could be outgunned: expert
RAAF fighters of the future could be outgunned by new Russian-built aircraft which carry far more missiles and fire them in salvos to make a hit more likely, an air power expert believes.
Dr Carlo Kopp, head analyst with the defence think tank Air Power Australia, said the side that could fire the most missiles stood the better chance of winning in this type of beyond visual range (BVR) combat.
Dr Kopp said the most optimistic scenario for the RAAF showed it losing one Super Hornet or one Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) for every Sukhoi Flanker shot down.
Current and future RAAF air dominance is based on detecting targets at long range then destroying them using missiles such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM (advanced medium-range air-to-air missile).
AMRAAM has an extensive combat record and has successfully shot down Russian built aircraft in conflicts in Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia.
The latest AMRAAM model has a range of almost 200 kilometres and a claimed 90 per cent probability of destroying its target.
But Dr Kopp said experience over the last 30 years has shown that beyond visual range missile shots were not very reliable.
"The Russian approach to solving this is to carry 2-3 times as many missiles and shoot them off in big salvos so you are guaranteed a hit," he said.
"The corollary of that is that fighters like JSF and Super Hornets are outgunned in this game because the Russians carry many more missiles. Once a JSF or Super Hornet fires off all its missiles, it's a sitting duck."
Dr Kopp said the latest Flanker aircraft, now entering service with some regional air forces, could carry up to a dozen beyond visual range missiles of various types.
JSF will be able to carry up to four AMRAAMs in its internal weapons bay. As many as four more could be carried externally, although at the expense of performance, extra fuel and a significant degradation of its stealth capability.
Super Hornets can now carry up to 10 AMRAAMs, again at the expense of extra fuel and performance.